Defending Suzuka 8 Hour winner Yamaha Factory Racing held their position at the top of the timesheets during Friday qualifying.

Chasing a third victory in a row, in the event's 40th anniversary, WorldSBK star Alex Lowes set the quickest lap of the day courtesy of a 2m 6.405s in his first session.

Team-mate, MotoGP test rider and podium finisher Katsuyuki Nakasuga was a fraction slower to underline the raw speed of the R1.

MotoGP's Jack Miller - heavily rumoured to announce a 2018-move to Pramac Ducati after this weekend - had been just seventh quickest in Q1 for the official HARC-PRO Honda team, but upped the pace significantly to lead his Q2.

Team-mate and triple winner Takumi Takahashi likewise improved from fifth to first. But it was Moto2 star Takaaki Nakagami who proved quickest of the trio with a lap of 2m 7.504s in his first run. Nakagami, expected to join MotoGP with LCR in 2018, then almost equalled that pace as he topped his second outing.

Moto2 rivals Dominque Aegerter and Hafizh Syahrin also produced stand-out Friday performances: Aegerter (TSR Honda) was second to Nakasuga in his Qualifying 1 as he set the best Fireblade lap of the day, while Syahrin (Kagayama Suzuki) was second to Miller in his Qualifying 2.

Yoshimura Suzuki's Takuya Tsuda - who stood in for the injured Alex Rins at the Spanish MotoGP - was the other rider to lead one of the six qualifying sessions. Tsuda also joined Lowes and Nakasuga in breaking the 2m 7s barrier.

Those laps came in the 'cooler' morning sessions - air temp still over 30-degrees - with each rider getting two qualifying runs on Friday. A combined qualifying time for the team was determined by averaging the best lap by each rider. The fastest 10 teams then progress to Saturday's Superpole-style 'Top10 Trial'.

The Suzuka qualifying record is a 2m 6.000s by Pol Espargaro in 2015. The Spaniard's move to KTM in MotoGP this season means his place at Yamaha Factory Racing has been taken by Lowes' team-mate Michael VD Mark, a double Suzuka winner for Honda.

Friday's track activity ends with a night free practice session...

Qualifying 2 - Rider 3
1. Nakagami (HARC-PRO Honda) 2m 7.522s
2. VD Mark (Yamaha Factory Racing) 2m 8.325s
3. Tsuda (Yoshimura Suzuki) 2m 8.735sQualifying 2 - Rider 2
1. Miller (HARC-PRO Honda) 2m 7.586s
2. Syahrin (Kagayama Suzuki) 2m 8.023s
3. Brookes (Yoshimura Suzuki) 2m 8.311sQualifying 2 - Rider 1
1. Takahashi (HARC-PRO Honda) 2m 8.306s
2. Guintoli (Yoshimura Suzuki) 2m 8.649s
3. Watanabe (Kawasaki Team Green) 2m 8.650s

Qualifying 1 - Rider 3
1. Tsuda (Yoshimura Suzuki) 2m 6.929s
2. Nakagami (HARC-PRO Honda) 2m 7.504s
3. VD Mark (Yamaha Factory Racing) 2m 8.164sQualifying 1 - Rider 2
1. Lowes (Yamaha Factory Racing) 2m 6.405s
2. Haslam (Kawasaki Team Green) 2m 7.398s
3. de Puniet (TSR Honda) 2m 7.689sQualifying 1 - Rider 1
1. Nakasuga (Yamaha Factory Racing) 2m 6.779s
2. Aegerter (TSR Honda) 2m 7.371s
3. Watanabe (Kawasaki Team Green) 2m 7.490s